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Program Pairs Cats with Kids Learning to Read

iStock/Thinkstock(BERKS COUNTY, Pa.) -- Colby Procyk, 7, loves to read. It wasn’t always the case though. A few months ago, he struggled with reading and was embarrassed to be called on in class.

Enter the Animal Rescue League of Berks County, whose Book Buddies program turned things around for Colby. Once or twice a week, Colby goes to the animal shelter to read to cats. The program pairs about 30 children a week with felines awaiting adoption.

Getting the cats to pay attention can sometimes be a challenge but the kids don’t seem to mind. The program helps the children relax and become better readers, and the shelter says the company helps soothe and socialize the cats.

“It doesn’t matter to them [the cats] what the book is about, how well the child is reading to them or anything like that,” said Kristi Rodriguez, a volunteer and program coordinator at the center. “They just love the one-on-one contact that the kids provide.”

At the start of the school year, Colby was reading below grade level. Recently, he received an award for most improved student in his second-grade class.

“I’ve seen a big growth in his reading ability and his confidence,” said his teacher, Nicole Gonzalez.

Colby’s mother, Katie Procyk, said the program has really helped.

“It makes him absolutely confident in his reading ability and he’s more inclined to read now,” she said.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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